Sonya Over – Staff Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is excited to introduce Sonya Over, our very own Financial Aid Advisor!

Sonya’s professional journey began back in 1993 when she graduated Summa Cum Laude from California University of Pennsylvania. She worked hard also to pass the CPA exam in May of 1993.

Before landing at United Career Institute, Sonya held a few different positions. She worked as a finance director with public housing for 10 years, a business manager with the local school district for five years. She was an executive director for a drug and alcohol recovery center for five years. Sonya says that her wide variety of professional experiences has nurtured her desire to see people succeed and achieve their dreams. “I spent decades working in public housing, public education, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. This all gave me the firm belief that anybody can change their lives and, more importantly, anybody can succeed with the right attitude and a strong support system,” she said.

Sonya has been with United for a number of years in a part-time capacity. “I had worked at PIHT (now United Career Institute) as needed for several years, and I really liked the family like atmosphere and the ‘student first’ attitude during my time. There is a common and collective goal among all staff to do whatever it takes to help the students. When the full-time position opened, I realized it would be a great fit to take me into retirement.” Sonya also loves the familial atmosphere amongst staff. “Having a united front with co-workers that have quickly become family makes going to work enjoyable.” She also notes that the school’s small size gives each employee the ability to get to know each student and provide support when needed. Sonya hopes to be able to continue to work in an environment that allows her to make an impact on many people.

Sonya loves her family, and one of her proudest accomplishments is being able to say that she and her siblings are the first generation of college graduates on both sides of her family. “The work ethic instilled in all of us by our mother has allowed us to achieve success in our individual paths.” In fact, Sonya cites her mother as her motivation in life. “Although my mom is no longer with us, she was always and always will be my greatest motivation to do well and make her proud.”

In Sonya’s spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her cat. “Most people don’t know that, although I really love animals, cats were never my favorite. I was a dog lover. However, when my neighbor convinced me to adopt a rescue named Patti Cat, I fell in love, and she is now my special cat. I can’t imagine life without her.”

To learn more about the financial aid process or to speak to Sonya yourself, request information here!

Financial Aid 101

You must make many important decisions when enrolling in career training classes, and financial aid is one of these decisions. Determining exactly how you will pay for your training and degree is a critical step to enrolling in school.

At United, we assist each and every student through the enrollment process, from the first time we speak with you, to creating your personalized financial plan, to helping you sign up for classes.

Financial Aid Process

Figuring out your financial aid can be complicated and confusing. There are so many different options, so how do you know which ones will work best for you? This is why we are here for our students every step of the way through the financial aid process.

“Financial aid is very complex, and there is a lot of detail. If a student has no idea what kind of student aid they qualify for, that is completely fine. We will walk each student from point A to point Z,” said Parker Rhoads, Financial Aid Advisor.

After completing your admissions interview next, you will meet with a financial aid advisor for your financial aid appointment. During this meeting, we assist students by walking you through the steps to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which must be submitted to qualify for federal/state grants and loans.

Next, after completing the FAFSA, we work with each student to create a personalized financial aid plan just for you. This plan will break down exactly how you will pay for school, so you can be confident about earning your degree and starting your path to an exciting new career.

“Our goal is to get our students graduated with as little debt as possible,” said Parker. “We understand that many of our students have been to college before, especially in a university setting, and it didn’t work out, so keeping their debt low is extremely important.”

Once your personalized financial aid plan is completed, you will confirm that the plan works for you and sign your financial aid documents.

At United, we have a financial aid officer here on campus, so students can pop in to ask questions or call whenever. We are a smaller school, so you don’t have to go through 10 different people to get ahold of the person you need. If a student has a question, all you need to do is call the school and ask to speak to someone in financial aid. In addition, students get access to our loan assistance department so that they can ask questions about your loans at any time.

Types of Financial Aid*

As you go through your financial aid appointment and review your personalized financial aid plan, you will learn that there are many different types of financial aid programs available to those who qualify.

  • Federal Pell Grants: This is grant money from the federal government to help fund your education that you do not have to pay back.
  • State Grants: Some states also have grant money available to help students fund their education that does not have to be paid back.
  • Grants/Scholarships**: These include both institutional grants offered by United and third-party scholarships from other sources to help pay for your education. We encourage students to research and apply for scholarships.
  • Student Loans: These are loans from the federal government or third-party providers that students take out to help pay for their education. Students are not required to make payments for their loans while they are attending school; however, we highly encourage them to make some cash payments to reduce their total amount of debt.
  • PLUS Loans: These loans are available for parents to take out to help pay for their student’s education. Parents must qualify for this type of loan.
  • GI Bill®^: For those who have served, you can use your veteran’s tuition benefits to help pay for your education.
  • Employer Tuition Reimbursement: This is for students who work for a company that offers tuition reimbursement to help pay for their employee’s education.
  • Cash Payments: Cash payments are what students make toward their own education, so they do not have to take out as many loans.
  • 529 Plan: This is a separate savings account for educational purposes that parents can set up for their children.

Your financial aid advisor will help you determine which specific types of financial aid you qualify for to help pay for your education during your financial aid appointment.

Completing the FAFSA

Filling out the FAFSA is critical to qualifying for financial aid. The information provided in this application will determine what types of financial aid and how much you qualify for. It’s important to make sure the information provided is accurate and up to date. Once your FAFSA is submitted, you will receive an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) number, which the federal government looks at when you apply for financial aid.

At United, we assist our students by helping them fill out their FAFSA or updating a previous FAFSA that may be incomplete. The FAFSA must be completed each year that a student plans to attend school.

“We are here to walk students through it, every step of the way,” said Parker. For anyone considering going to school, Parker says to “complete your FAFSA as soon as possible. Get in touch with our financial aid department, and we can walk you through the process, step by step.”

Join Us At United

At United, we are career-driven. We want to train students quickly so that you can begin your new career faster. “We provide our students a premium educational experience with face-to-face and personal interaction,” said Parker.

Our career-focused programs and supportive learning environment can help you start your career with the knowledge, skills, and experience to succeed. Explore our healthcare training programs and request information to get started today!

*For those who qualify.

**For those who qualify. See catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.

^ GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.